Courtney Martin has an interesting interview with Sisterhood Interrupted author Deborah Siegel about feminist in-fighting. A few of Siegel’s comments really struck me, including her characterization of the underlying issues in the inter-feminist conflicts:
In the early days of the second-wave women’s movement — and actually all the way through the 1990s — feminists debated whether the best way to make serious, lasting change was by changing the world outside or changing ourselves. Today, we’re debating the merits of “choice feminism” and “Sex-and-the-City”-style empowerment, but we’re asking ourselves the same question: What needs transforming, our head or the world? Depending on your answer, feminism becomes a culture or a cause.
The individual versus the collective solution does seem to be a major divide, even though I suspect many feminists would say that both our head and our world have to change. I think we just differ on the proportions.
The latest fight, as Martin points out in her questions, seems to be the Mommy Wars — something that many feminists have been arguing is over-hyped and largely created by a trend-hungry media. Siegel agrees:
You know, I’m not a mom yet, but my best friend, who’s an active professional and a mom, keeps telling me how peacefully SAHMs and moms who work outside the home coexist in her social circle. The media really has the whole “war” thing overblown. It’s a great distraction from the real work that needs to get done (and that groups like MomsRising and the Mothers Movement Online are, thank goodness, now doing).
So what can we learn from the past? Not to believe the hype. Mainstream media have been historically lame about truthfully covering women’s realities. Other lessons from the past: Read books like Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born.
I’m with her on that. And now I want to read her book.
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